While spring may not officially start until March 19, you’re not alone if you already have warmer weather (or college basketball) on your mind. The change in seasons is also a great time to give your financial life a little TLC. With that in mind, here are five ways to improve your finances in March — no lucky shamrock required.
1. SPRING CLEAN YOUR FINANCES
We talked about setting money goals earlier in the year, and hopefully you’re feeling good about your budgeting and day-to-day expenses. (If you’re not, think about the mental obstacles that may be holding you back.)
This month, spend some time on the tasks that may not affect your everyday spending, but are still important for your finances. Organize your paperwork, including birth certificates, bank account information and tax returns. Find out your most up-to-date credit score and see how the upcoming FICO score changes might affect it. Do you have multiple retirement accounts because of job changes? Consider rolling over old 401(k)s into your current employer’s plan — or your own account — so your retirement savings is all in one place.
2. REDUCE YOUR 2019 TAXES
Speaking of saving for retirement, you still have time to take advantage for the 2019 tax season. If you are younger than 50, you can contribute a combined $6,000 between traditional and Roth individual retirement accounts. If you are 50 or older, you can contribute $7,000. Try to maximize these contributions, as they can lower your taxable income.
3. PLANNING TO BUY OR SELL? BRUSH UP ON SOME KEY TERMS
Spring is the peak season for buying and selling a home. So if you’re looking to uproot, make sure you’re familiar with any potentially complicated mortgage terms before signing any documents. Find a real estate agent who will help you navigate the process from start to finish, and maybe even connect you with a home inspector. Then all you’ll have left to do is pack up your things before starting your next chapter.
4. TACKLE A HOME PROJECT
Even if you’re not in the market to move, consider taking on a project to boost your home’s value and earn a higher asking price if you ever decide to sell. Whether it’s a larger maintenance project like installing new floors or a simple update like painting a few rooms, remember that every update doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
5. MAP OUT YOUR SUMMER PLANS
While you might feel like summer won’t be here for an eternity, vacation bookings can go fast, so start putting those saved up miles and points to use now. While it’s always possible to snag last-minute deals, waiting can mean paying more for accommodations that you don’t love. And if you’re looking to take off a good chunk of time (you deserve it!), it’s always a good idea to let your employer know about any upcoming plans as far in advance as possible, no matter how generous of a PTO policy your work offers.